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Cover Story

Inside the Sweatshops

PAY-TO-PLAY RECRUITINGWorkers from abroad need companies to sponsor them for the visas necessary to come to the U.S. So some tech-services companies take advantage by demanding exorbitant fees in exchange for sponsorship. Such fees, which can be as high as $15,000, are illegal.

RéSUMé INFLATIONTech companies also pressure IT workers to make inflated claims about their education and on-the-job experience. That makes it easier for workers to get visas reserved for the highly skilled, and it allows the companies to charge corporate clients higher fees for their service.

PAYROLL RUNNINGIn some cases, tech companies that can't find legitimate jobs for visa holders force them to seek employment on their own. Then the companies, which hold the workers' visa documents, use that leverage to extract a cut of their wages—which also is illegal.

'BENCHING' WITHOUT PAYWhen guest workers are between assignments to clients, or "on the bench," their visa sponsors are required by law to keep paying them. But some don't. Workers on the bench are often forced to hunt for assignments themselves and live off their savings.

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